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  1. #1
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    Getting "in the zone" during a ride

    My last few rides have been really good - I feel like I'm just dialed into the trail and am "in the zone". I'm seeing lines & obstacles really well, finding new, more fun and creative lines, my timing is is on, cornering feels smooth, and I'm just having a ton of fun. It's almost like I'm seeing things happen a little slower even though I'm at full speed - kind of like in The Matrix when things slow down and there is more time to react.

    I wish every ride was like this, but sometimes it's the opposite and I feel like I forgot how to ride - the trail is coming at me too fast, it gets blurry, & I start picking bad lines like a klutz. Does anyone else experience this? Is it just all in my head or is it a real phenomenon?

    I've been riding off & on for quite a long time & can't really figure out how or why this happens - is it just getting focused and getting your head in the right place? Is it just confidence? or pure practice / experience and eventually all rides are like this? I would love to figure out how to make every ride like this. Does anybody know what I'm talking about or am I just losing it?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    sometimes, I'll smoke a little weed when I'm not feeling it.. and it helps me get in the right frame of mind
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

  3. #3
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    Getting "in the zone" during a ride

    It's real for me. The bad days my eyes just keep pulling themselves to the front wheel. Every movement feels jerky and jittery, just slow. The good days are just smooth and almost effortless. Even the tired feeling is good.
    All out of S**** and down to my last F***

  4. #4
    Trail Blazer
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfgiantsfan View Post
    sometimes, I'll smoke a little weed when I'm not feeling it.. and it helps me get in the right frame of mind
    This. Every ride.

  5. #5
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    I love that (occasional) feeling!

    It usually happens when I'm riding solo, not worrying about trying to catch up to anybody, not worried about anybody pushing me--and not worried about how fabulous my kit looks.
    Why?

    Because we like the taste of freedom; because we like the smell of danger. ~ E. Abbey

  6. #6
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    I usually have this until I get to "the tree" on Rocky Ridge where my brain shifts into "oh ****, don't fall" mode.

  7. #7
    rox
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    the zone is a real place. sometimes its like you live there and sometimes its location remains totally hidden. its also known as "flow state" and can be found in almost all sports and other activities that require concentration, such as programming

  8. #8
    swag ho Administrator
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    Nice thread - subscribed.

    For me, it's frequency, fitness, and focus.

    Frequency - For every four rides, one will be a bad one. Bad climbing and bad descending will plague the day. The key is to work with it and not force the issue cause the next ride is likely to be awesome.

    Fitness and Technique - If I'm fit and riding at 80%, then I'm ready for the downhill with all my senses. And there's 5 things I need to know about how to corner properly. I usually can do a couple of them correctly. But knowing what they are and realizing when I do it right builds on my muscle memory.

    Focus - Sometimes, it's natural that I think of nothing but the 10 turns and 5 drops ahead of me. But sometimes, my brain wanders either cause I'm hungry, tired, restless, intimidated, etc. It takes some mind control to get my mind focused on the task at hand.

    p.s never let your guard down even when you are dialed cause that's when crashes happen.

    fc
    IPA will save America

  9. #9
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    I recently had a few bad rides (well no such thing as a bad ride but you get my point) where I picked bad lines, couldn't clear what I normally could and felt overly sluggish.
    Thank goodness that is not every ride. When I am in the zone I usually need be caught up on sleep, well hydrated and well fueled by food. I can tell when I am in the zone because I seem to lose conscious thought and all my brain does is scan the trail in front of me and control my body.
    I usually have to be well warmed up to be in the zone too. Sometimes I need a solid 5 miles before I feel my body firing on all cylinders. When I am in the zone I take advantage of it and ride until my body starts to throw in the towel. The feeling of getting back to the truck and being totally drained is a great feeling.

  10. #10
    rox
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    good reading: Flow (psychology) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    especially this part "people with several very specific personality traits may be better able to achieve flow more often than the average person. These personality traits include curiosity, persistence, low self-centeredness, and a high rate of performing activities for intrinsic reasons only."

    I think mountain biking is almost always an activity that is performed for intrinsic reasons only. we are out there to have fun, learn, and enjoy ourselves and not to achieve an outside goal. for this reason I think mountain biking is one of the easiest ways to find flow, and the flow is what makes it a good escape.

    I think finding this state is something you can practice and improve. but there are still days where it seems impossible.

  11. #11
    rho
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    The zone... It is one of the hallmarks of the cult of bike riding, moto riding, making music, writing software, etc. It is about not thinking, letting go of the bills you have to pay when you get home, the dishes you have to do, the dog you have to walk.

    I've been lucky that I can just zone out the random day to day crap my mind drags at the drop of a hat and get into the "zone". It too me years to learn to let go and be one with the bike and my surroundings, but I think I'm there. I point the bike down... and BAM, one fun downhill trip to awesome town.

  12. #12
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    For me, "the zone" is a meditative state. It's beyond concentration...it's the absence of concentration. Act and react. Flow. Awareness without being aware.

    Any kind of climbing breaks the zone for me because it gets me back in my head. "This hurts", "What's my line up this?", etc.

    Years ago, weed used to help but I don't need it anymore.

    "The zone" is why I ride a mountain bike and not a road bike in general.

    The trails up above 9 are zone city for me.

  13. #13
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    I have heard people talk about their "bike disappearing from under them". I totally know what they mean. You feel like bike is an extension of your body. You can sense that the root you just rolled over with your front tire might make your rear tire slide. You can sense that your pedal might be a little too low in a rock garden.

  14. #14
    I like mtn biking, too
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    Regarding the sometimes it's on/sometimes it's off... I've noticed a correlation between this flow state and what else is going on in my life that's not even related to riding. Earlier this week I was a basket case and was riding silly slow. I think I achieved my slowest time in like 3 years on a friggin easy fire road. I've ridden that thing a thousand times! It was comical. Then things broke through and I was ok, and back to makin' pr's, but more importantly, feeling smooth and effortless... I was pumin'! (Pyume! pyume!)

    Urban Dictionary: Pume
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by shredchic View Post
    I was pumin'! (Pyume! pyume!)

    Urban Dictionary: Pume
    I like it.

  16. #16
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    Getting "in the zone" during a ride

    Yes I experience this too. Some days I'm fast... Some days I'm slow. I find when I try too hard to beat someone or set out to bust a new PR it affects me negatively. If I can just get myself to "not think" I'm always faster... Up and down. I'll even shove my phone in an outside pocket and bust some tunes... That helps too

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by francois View Post
    p.s never let your guard down even when you are dialed cause that's when crashes happen.
    Got a great reminder of this a couple of days ago at the very bottom of P. Chute after "zoning" for a few hours on my first SS ride at UC Wilder: glanced down to the road in a lapse in concentration/moment of paranoia, dropped off a rock, grabbed a handful, and got ejected from Zone City!

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    For me, "the zone" is a meditative state. It's beyond concentration...

    "The zone" is why I ride a mountain bike and not a road bike in general.

    The trails up above 9 are zone city for me.
    Yes, yes, and aawyeah. Pume on!


    VV Eeyeww! That's what coffee's for, Julie.
    Why?

    Because we like the taste of freedom; because we like the smell of danger. ~ E. Abbey

  18. #18
    I like mtn biking, too
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    Yeah, there seems to be somethin' about trying too hard that messes with it. When you're trying too hard you are clenched up and tight, but relaxation is a part of flow. Kinda like when you're tryin' to take a **** in the morning.
    Never use your face as a brake pad.
    -Jake Watson

  19. #19
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Yep - that zone is when your brain's synapses are firing on all cylinders. MTB is not a sport where your mind can wander. Full focus is critical, for not doing something potentially fatal. Researchers found MTB produces more Adrenaline per minute, than many motion-based sports. Adrenaline in moderate quantities, has been found to retard the aging process significantly, by suppressing the formation of cellular free-radicals and other oxidative compounds, relating to inflammation and even cancer. I'm no PhD - but I tend to believe that finding.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    Researchers found MTB produces more Adrenaline per minute, than many motion-based sports. Adrenaline in moderate quantities, has been found to retard the aging process significantly, by suppressing the formation of cellular free-radicals and other oxidative compounds, relating to inflammation and even cancer. I'm no PhD - but I tend to believe that finding.
    Where did you see this?

  21. #21
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Where did you see this?
    I saw it as a Doctoral Dissertation, at Stanford University.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zachariah View Post
    I saw it as a Doctoral Dissertation, at Stanford University.
    Sounds interesting. Is it on the web somewhere?

  23. #23
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Hungus View Post
    Sounds interesting. Is it on the web somewhere?
    It was an archived, hard copy, at the University Library. I read it in 2004. The dis was dated sometime in 1999. My long-term memory is good - yet, I cannot recall the author's name! I had the impression the alumni was an older, hardcore MTB racer who felt a burst of rejuvenation, after each of his rides. I'm 49 and since I took up MTB in 2006 - people all tell me I don't look a day over 29(zero gray hair/body fat helps!).
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  24. #24
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    I wouldn't call that feeling "in the zone", yours sounds more like a "riders high". That moment when everything is going right, the bike feels light through the turns, the tires are relentless to let go, and your arms rhythmically moving under you as the bike glides through the forest. You can feel every bump and turn as if those knobs were part of your very body and existence. Ultimately, you would never want the trail to end as you are drunk in the ecstasy of the forest and dirt.

    P.S. be glad it doesn't happen every time, it's like that girl you just cant have. Wouldn't be special now if you got it when you wanted it.

  25. #25
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    I've been meaning to post this question in a while:

    How do people train to have more focus while riding? I mean focus on positive thoughts about riding (or absence of thoughts). Not thinking about work or relationship stuff or that the rear tire sucks and is getting no traction.

    Has anybody tried meditation or have any tips?
    Correct number of bikes: n+1 bikes
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